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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Columbia University Faces Growing Lawsuit Over Allegations of Sexual Abuse by Gynecologist

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Edited by: TJVNews.com

Columbia University finds itself embroiled in a mounting legal battle as an additional 301 patients of former gynecologist Robert Hadden filed a lawsuit on Tuesday. The suit, the third of its kind against the institution, alleges that Hadden sexually abused his patients during physical examinations, and claims that hospital administrators, nurses, and other doctors played a role in covering up the abuse, as was reported by the Wall Street Journal. This development more than doubles the number of victims who have come forward, underscoring the magnitude of the scandal.

The latest lawsuit, which was filed in New York Supreme Court, leverages a state law passed in the previous year. The WSJ report indicated that this law temporarily extends the statute of limitations on civil cases involving gender-based violence, providing a look-back window for victims of sexual abuse. Anthony DiPietro, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, revealed that this window is set to close next month, the WSJ reported.  The suit is a stark reminder of the urgency in addressing long-standing grievances and seeking justice for survivors.

The allegations against Hadden are profoundly disturbing, with dozens of women recounting graphic experiences of abuse in his office. The WSJ provided shocking details, saying that these victims, identified as Jane Doe, described painful and unnecessary breast, vaginal, and rectal examinations conducted by Hadden without wearing gloves. The suit portrays Hadden as “the most prolific serial sexual predator in New York State history.”

Even more troubling are the claims that hospital staff and administrators were aware of Hadden’s misconduct as far back as 1994 when a complaint was reportedly sent to the acting chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology, the WSJ report said. According to the suit, nurses, physicians, and other assistants were often present in the examination room during the assaults but took no action to intervene or report the abuse.

As was indicated in the WSJ report, in response to the latest lawsuit, Columbia University reiterated a statement made by its president, Minouche Shafik, last month. Shafik expressed the institution’s remorse and offered “deepest apologies to all his victims and their loved ones.” However, the university now faces mounting pressure to take concrete steps in addressing the allegations and ensuring accountability for those involved.

The growing number of survivors in the Hadden case now rivals the scale of the case involving Larry Nassar, the former doctor at Michigan State University and USA Gymnastics, as was reported by the WSJ.  Nassar’s case shocked the world with over 500 sex-abuse victims coming forward. The magnitude of these cases underscores the imperative for institutions to prioritize the safety and well-being of their patients.

Robert Hadden practiced medicine from 1987 to 2012 and lost his medical license in 2016 after pleading guilty to two state charges of criminal sex acts. However, it wasn’t until 2020, when Evelyn Yang, wife of former presidential hopeful Andrew Yang, revealed herself as one of Hadden’s victims, that the case drew renewed attention, the WSJ reported. In 2021, Columbia University reached a $72 million settlement with 79 of Hadden’s former patients. This figure escalated in 2022 when the school paid a $165 million settlement to 147 additional patients.

Hadden’s legal troubles culminated in July, with a 20-year prison sentence for enticing four victims to his New York City office for unlawful sexual activity. However, the fallout from his actions continues to plague Columbia University.

The mounting legal action against Columbia University highlights the significance of providing survivors with avenues for seeking justice. The look-back window provided by New York’s state law has empowered survivors to come forward, shedding light on a disturbing history of abuse, the WSJ reported.

Anthony DiPietro, the plaintiffs’ attorney, has called for Columbia to take proactive steps in notifying the estimated 10,000 women who may have been treated by Hadden at the university, the report added. These women, many of whom may be unaware of the abuse, deserve transparency and support in their pursuit of justice.

As the legal battle unfolds, it serves as a stark reminder of the critical need for institutions to prioritize patient safety, hold wrongdoers accountable, and ensure that survivors are provided with the support and closure they deserve. The courage of survivors in coming forward is not only reshaping the narrative but also reaffirming the importance of accountability in healthcare settings.



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